Sri Lanka’s small car registrations continued its strong momentum in February although the total vehicle registrations slightly slipped from its January high, perhaps due to less number of days, according to registration data tracked by Colombo-based stock brokerage, JB Securities.
Motorcar registrations in February were slightly down to 4,881 units from 5,089 units in January but more than doubled from 2,091 units 12 months ago.
“Vehicle registrations trended downwards in February perhaps due to a fewer number of days in the month. Small cars continued to show strong momentum”, JB Securities Managing Director Murtaza Jafferjee said.
The month saw 778 units of brand new car registrations, slightly down from 842 units in January and marginally down from 786 units 12 months ago.
In the brand new category, Suzuki leads the market with 278 units, mostly Wagon R models. Maruti Alto came second with the registration of 200 units.
Deteriorating public transport service, growing population, migration of people to cities for jobs and rising incomes have resulted in more cars on the roads causing massive traffic jams in and around Colombo.
Many governments all around the world have grasped the issue, albeit too late, and are devising plans at the national level to tackle the growing congestion. Sri Lankan government however so far has shown lack of commitment to find a durable solution to the growing social and economic issue.
This week the government of New York proposed to impose a fee on vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district, as a form of congestion pricing in a bid to help fund the city’s faltering subway system.
Last month Singapore government cut the annual growth rate for cars and motorcycles to zero from 0.25 percent in view of land constraints for further expansion of the road network.
However, every month, Sri Lanka sees a whopping 30,000 motorcycle registrations. In February the number was 27, 139, out of which 16,279 units being scooters, the second biggest menace on Lankan roads after three-wheelers.
Meanwhile, three-wheeler registrations during the month came in at 1,477 units, slightly down from 1,544 units in January but up from 903 units 12 months ago.
“As a point of reference in November 2015 this number was 13,688”, Jafferjee said.
“The taxation on a three-wheeler is approximately Rs.420, 000 pushing up the retail price to around Rs.750,000. Financing has been restricted by the regulator to 25 percent on macro-prudential grounds thus a potential buyer has to mobilize Rs.562,500 up front – a sum too far for many.
Three-wheelers may be a menace on the streets of Colombo and many a car owner will wish for its curtailment, but it is the lifeblood of rural Sri Lanka, in some cases literally for it acts as a make-do ambulance”, he added.
Meanwhile, in February 182 units of premium cars were registered, down from 206 units in January but significantly up from 54 units 12 months ago.
Electric cars recorded 27 units in February, up from 18 units in January and marginally up from 26 units 12 months ago. Nissan Leaf accounted for 23 of the units for the month.
Although it was highlighted in the budget of 2018 that a preferential tariff would be provided for electric vehicles, volumes are yet to pick up.
In total, Sri Lanka saw 37, 354 vehicles being registered in February, down from 42, 783 units in January.